The legal field is thriving and there is always demand for new lawyers, just as there are always businesses and individuals seeking legal advice.
In law, the barriers to entry are higher than in other fields. You can become a sales rep or data analyst without much prior experience or education, but if you want to become a lawyer, it is absolutely necessary for you to go through several years of education and examinations.
In that sense, the law is more like science. Though it’s not as precise, it is certainly more so than marketing and management.
You need to pass the bar, get a job, learn how to use legal contract analysis software, research your field, and gain lots of experience to become a professional. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry, you can do it! To give you a better understanding of what it means to become a lawyer, here are some steps that will put you on the right track.
Get an undergraduate degree
If you want to go to law school, you need to have a bachelor’s degree to apply. It doesn’t have to be too specific, though it’s good to have a general idea of the kind of law you want to practice. If you’re interested in business law, for example, look for undergraduate programs that focus on business. It’s not crucial, but having this background knowledge will help you in the future.
During these years, pay attention to your studies and try to earn at least a 3.0 GPA. It will give you an advantage if you end up applying for scholarships.
Pass the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test is a test that makes sure your reading and reasoning skills are adequate. This is an important step towards your career as a lawyer, as your score may determine whether or not you will get accepted into law school. These examinations happen 4 times a year.
Get a graduate law degree
At this point, your education begins to have a narrow focus – law. With your LSAT score and your undergraduate degree, you can now apply to law school. Once you get into law school, you’ll have 3 years of full-time studies ahead of you. You need to get a law degree from an accredited school in order to take the bar exam, which is necessary for your career as a lawyer.
Pass the MPRE
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination is a prerequisite for the bar exam in most states, with some exceptions.
Pass the bar exam
This is what your education comes down to – the bar examination. If you’ve done well so far, you now have to pass the bar exam in your future state of practice. Once you’ve gotten your graduate law degree and passed the bar, you’re a lawyer! Well, almost. You are legally allowed to practice law in your state. Now it’s time to put your skills to good use.
Undergo job training
Some schools offer or require their law students to undertake a clerkship while still in school. This experience is beneficial for all aspiring lawyers, as it allows you to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a lawyer before getting a full-time job.
If you’ve had the opportunity to enroll in a clerkship, you can eventually ask your mentor if there are any entry-level positions available at the firm. If you’ve done a good job, they are more likely to hire you for a full-time position after graduation.
Though a clerkship won’t let you dive right into the work of a lawyer, it will prepare you for it. If you haven’t had the opportunity to intern for someone before you graduate, that’s alright too. You will definitely undergo additional job training on the job.
Apply to jobs
Now that you’re done with your education, you can finally get a real job as a lawyer! The best thing you can do here is to find as many law firms in your town as possible and apply to all of them. Find a balance and don’t spread yourself too thin though. You still have to write a unique cover letter for each firm you’re applying to.
When you’re fresh out of grad school, chances are, you don’t have much work experience. In this case, your cover letter is the only thing that can make you stand out. You need to outline all of your relevant achievements in the field.
Stay up to date with the industry
Finally, never stop educating yourself. There will always be more to learn. As a successful lawyer, you need to stay up to date with relevant technology. Ask for help, shadow your more experienced colleagues, and read about the field. You can be better than anyone by showing initiative and teaching yourself all the things you need to know. Don’t rely on your job training to give you everything; you are your best resource.